Neil Simon Theatre

Neil Simon Theatre
Alvin Theatre[1]

Neil Simon Theatre showing Hairspray, 2003
Address 250 West 52nd Street
New York City
United States
Owner Nederlander Organization
Type Broadway
Capacity Approx. 1,362
Production Cats
Opened Nov. 22, 1927
Architect Herbert J. Krapp

The Neil Simon Theatre, formerly the Alvin Theatre, is a Broadway venue built in 1927 and located at 250 West 52nd Street in midtown-Manhattan.

As of 2011, the record for its longest running show is held by the musical Hairspray, which opened August 15, 2002, and ran for 2,642 performances before closing on January 4, 2009.

On October 19, 2010, RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles opened at the Neil Simon Theatre and ran through January 15, 2011, when it moved to the Brooks Atkinson Theater. The new musical Catch Me If You Can began performances at the theatre in spring 2011.[2]


Designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp, the developer, real estate mogul Alexander Pincus originally named it the "Alvin Theatre" as an amalgam of the names of producers ALex Aarons and VINton Freedley. With its address originally listed as 244-54 West 42nd Street, it opened on November 22, 1927, with George and Ira Gershwin's Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire.[1] In 1930, Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut in Girl Crazy; in 1934, she appeared again in Cole Porter's Anything Goes and again in 1936 in Porter's Red, Hot and Blue.[3] In 1935, the Gershwins' American folk opera Porgy and Bess had its world premiere at the venue.[4] Due to the Great Depression, Aarons and Freedley lost control of their venue in 1932. For a period, CBS used it as a radio studio. In 1960, Lucille Ball appeared in her only Broadway show, the musical Wildcat.[5] In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her Broadway debut in Flora the Red Menace.[6] The original Broadway production of Annie opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin.

In 1977, the Nederlander Organization purchased the structure and renamed it in honor of American playwright Neil Simon on June 29, 1983, the opening of his play Brighton Beach Memoirs.[4][7] In 1985, its sequel Biloxi Blues also played at the theatre.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building a New York City landmark in 1985. Historical records show that the original seating capacity was 1,362;[1] in 2002, it expanded from 1,328 to a potential 1,467 after the May 27, 2002, closing of Elaine Stritch at Liberty. (To use the orchestra pit, 26 seats must be removed.)[4] Robin Williams was to perform five shows of his comedy tour, Weapons Of Self-Destruction at this theatre in early April 2009, but he was forced to cancel the engagement due to his health.[8] In lieu of Williams, the revival of Ragtime, opened November 15, 2009, after a successful run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It closed January 10, 2010, due to low ticket sales after only 28 previews and 57 regular performances.[9][10]

The new musical Catch Me if You Can began previews on March 11, 2011, and opened on April 10, 2011.[11] On September 4, 2011, Catch Me If You Can closed after 32 previews and 170 regular performances.

A revival of Jesus Christ Superstar opened on March 22, 2012, at the theater and ran through July 1, 2012.[12]

In July 2015, the Nederlander Organization sold the structure's air rights to a consortium planning a highrise tower on Seventh Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets. The sale will have no impact on the facility.[13]

Notable productions

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Neil Simon Theatre.
  1. 1 2 3 Morrison, William (1999). Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture (trade paperback). Dover Books on Architecture. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. pp. 154–55. ISBN 978-0486402444.
  2. Hetrick, Adam (29 September 2010). "Catch Me If You Can Books Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  3. Ethel Merman at the Internet Broadway Database
  4. 1 2 3 4 Jones, Kenneth (May 21, 2002). "A New 'Do: Capacity of Neil Simon Theatre Will Increase for Hairspray". Playbill. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
  5. Wildcat at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. Flora, the Red Menace at the Internet Broadway Database
  7. Calta, Louis (November 26, 1975). "Nederlander Family Adds Alvin to Its Holings". The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2015. (subscription required (help)).
  8. Gans, Andrew (July 8, 2009). "HBO to Air Robin Williams' Weapons of Self-Destruction". Playbill. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  9. Marks, Peter (January 3, 2010). "'Ragtime's' closing: A sign of Broadway's thirst for crowd-pleasers". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  10. 1 2 Kuchwara, Michael (December 28, 2009). "Revival of 'Ragtime' set to close Sunday on Broadway". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  11. Hetrick, Adam (March 11, 2011). "Live in Living Color": Catch Me If You Can Lands on Broadway March 11". Playbill. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  12. "It's Official! JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR to Open on Broadway March 2012!". Broadway Worldwide. October 4, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  13. Viagas, Robert (July 29, 2015). "Nederlanders Sell Air Rights Above Neil Simon Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  14. Rooney, David (November 10, 2013). "Broadway's 'Big Fish' to Close Three Months After Opening". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  15. Kreps, Daniel (January 6, 2015). "Sting's 'The Last Ship' to Close on Broadway". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  16. Viagas, Robert; Gioia, Michael (June 9, 2015). "Au Revoir Broadway: Gigi, Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Posts Closing Notice". Playbill. Retrieved July 29, 2015.

Coordinates: 40°45′46.5″N 73°59′3″W / 40.762917°N 73.98417°W / 40.762917; -73.98417

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